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Reflections in a Golden Eye

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  3,006 Ratings  ·  234 Reviews
A powerful and passionate tale is set on a southern army post --a human hell inhabited by a sexually disturbed officer, his animalistic wife, her lover, and the driven young private who forces the drama to its climax...
Paperback, 136 pages
Published September 8th 2000 by Mariner Books (first published 1941)
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Jim Davis McCullers tells us twice in the novel: "'A peacock of a sort of ghastly green. With one immense golden eye. And in it these reflections of something…moreMcCullers tells us twice in the novel: "'A peacock of a sort of ghastly green. With one immense golden eye. And in it these reflections of something tiny and ---'" "'Groteseque,' she finished for him. "

Every character in the novel is warped by some obsession, passion, self-denial, wantonness, self-indulgence, etc., etc., to the point that they are unable to function in normal human society. This is the definition of the "grotesque" in literature, especially in the "Southern Grotesque" school of writing (Faulkner, Welty, O'Connor, Capote, etc.). I think McCullers was trying to take the genre as far as it could go in order to examine how the concept works in all of us.(less)

Community Reviews

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Dolors
Sep 16, 2014 Dolors rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those daring to look at their reflection in the mirror
Shelves: read-in-2014
An impending sense of dread interlaces the lives of five characters set on an army base in the American South of the 1930s. They are all prey of the remorse that goes along with secret liaisons, inner frustrations and repressed sexual preferences. With the rigidness of the secluded military system and the inherent loneliness in hermetic marriages imposed by social convention as a backdrop, resentments and obsessions will fester in contained aggressiveness and will inevitably escalate towards a v ...more
Chrissie
This novel, Carson McCullers's second, first came out serialized in Harper's Bazaar in 1940. The following year it was published as a book. She wrote it in 1939, originally entitled Army Post. The idea for the book grew from both a visit she had made as an adolescent to Fort Benning in Georgia and then later her husband's mention of a peeking Tom incident at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. I assume you know what a peeping Tom is.

The story is laid up as a mystery. You are told at the beginning tha
...more
Algernon
Jun 21, 2015 Algernon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015

I am humbled once again by the familiarity of Carson McCullers with pain, loneliness and alienation - the dark thread that ties together her novels and stories, the silent scream of despair that unites the patrons of a sad cafe with the unsuccesful hunters for love in a mill town, and now with the officers and their consorts on an army base somewhere in Georgia.

I am so immersed in my characters that their motives are my own. When I write about a thief, I become one; when I write about Captain P
...more
Paul Bryant
Dec 26, 2015 Paul Bryant rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Carson’s biographer tells us that her family got an anonymous phone call just after this novel was published.

An alleged Ku Klux Klansman called to say that he and his friends were going to get her that night. She had been a “nigger lover” in her first book, he said, and now she had proven herself “a queer” as well. Carson’s indignant father waited all night on the front porch of their Starke Avenue home to greet the Klansman with a loaded shotgun and was disappointed when no one attempted to car
...more
William1
Mar 24, 2011 William1 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, us, 20-ce
I love the way McCullers's work is overrun with the most vivid queens. Some closeted, like Lieutenant Penderton here, but others gay and carefree, like Anacleto, Mrs. Langdon's Filipino houseboy. This is a story of sexual derangement, of what happens when the love impulse is forced underground, in an age when it dare not speak its name. The novel is in its way almost unutterably sad. It makes us glad that we live in comparatively happier times. Despite the fact that McCullers has these moments o ...more
Teresa
Jun 03, 2013 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-usa, e5
O capitão Penderton, a mulher Leonora e o soldado Williams; o major Langdon, a mulher Alison e o criado Anacleto.
São seis personagens que vivem e convivem numa base militar

Carson McCullers
É uma escritora com um dom para criar personagens complexas e narrar, com uma escrita despretensiosa, as suas paixões, desgostos, desilusões,...
Personagens com desejos, personalidades e comportamentos invulgares que nos surpreendem e estranhamos, mas que não considero absurdos porque estão coerentes com quem s
...more
Melanie
Jan 20, 2011 Melanie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
Reflections in a Golden Eye starts plainly enough, easing into the lives of a Captain, a Major, their wives and a strange, compulsive observer, a soldier portrayed part innocent child and part insidious interloper.

The story plays out calmly but at times is like a feverish dream full of nervous, fearful, desiring creatures - a mix of human and animal impressions adding to the overall surreal quality.

I am continually startled by the Carson McCullers work, and her intuitive handling of human frail
...more
Duffy Pratt
Apr 30, 2010 Duffy Pratt rated it liked it
Shelves: classic
Upon finishing this, I checked McCullers biography online to see whether she committed suicide. It turns out she didn't. Instead, she tried and failed, and somehow that is even more fitting.

I don't know if I've ever read anyone who has a both flatter and bleaker view of people. Her writing ranges from the very good to the spectacular. The people in her world are grotesques who would fit into other Southern Gothic writers books. They would be right at home in Flannery O'Connor or Faulker, for exa
...more
Cecily
A novella set in an army camp in the US south in the 50s or 60s. It concerns six characters (two officer couples, a servant and a conscript), each with an obsession with one of the others.

Unlike some of her books, race barely comes into it, but rank and sexuality do.

It's slow, painful, a little weird and beautiful. As with all her writing, there are literal and more metaphorical lyrical aspects to the writing (reflecting her musical training).
Cemre
Kitabı da Carson McCullers'ın anlatımını da sevdim; fakat yayımlanan diğer kitaplarının baskısı yok şu an sanırım. Dilerim en kısa zamanda yeni baskılarını yayımlarlar.
Omaira
3,5

"La mente es como un tapiz ricamente tejido, en el cual los colores provienen de las experiencias de los sentidos y el diseño está trazado por las circunvoluciones del cerebro. La mente del soldado Williams era una mezcla de colores y tonos extraños, pero no tenía trazado alguno, carecía de forma"



Leído para la lectura Conjunta que realizamos Laura y Nuria de la novela, #LCReflejos

Sigo con McCullers después de leer esa impresionante pieza literaria llamada El corazón es un cazador solitari
...more
Evan
[2016 review revision: This is a very short book that took me a year and a half to read, from late 2011 to spring 2013. The circumstances as to why that was the case used to be in this review, but I have now excised all of those personal effusions and retired them to my own archives. What follows is the rest of the review as it was posted in 2013:]

So, to pen any kind of decent review, can I even remember very much about this Southern gothic chamber piece featuring three mainly sexually repressed
...more
Natàlia
3,5 en realidad.
Aubrey
I might have liked this better had I not read Flannery O'Connor already, but then again, maybe not. Outbursts of violence as the result of societal repression can be a powerful theme, but it is also one so overdone that it has become predictable and calcifying in all but a few well thought out cases. As such, if the narrative and its climax consist of nothing more than White (I see the toxic masculinity turned in on itself by way of being gay, and raise you a gay-coded man of color being tossed ...more
Batgrl (Book Data Kept Elsewhere)
Ebook, read online, via Open Library.

I was reading an essay which led me to wikipedia, and then, well as soon as I found this online I thought I'd just read a little, and then a little more - and then 30 pages into it I figured I should just give in and admit I'm reading the book. Which is odd, because originally I'd set out to read The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

The setting is an army base in peacetime Georgia (US). For a quick version - the wikipedia page. There's a love triangle, but there's al
...more
George
Mar 01, 2016 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century
Ήθελα να γνωρίσω και αυτήν την μεγάλη Αμερικανίδα συγγραφέα, που είναι από τις πιο γνωστές γυναίκες συγγραφείς στο είδος του Southern Gothic (το οποίο μου αρέσει πολύ), όμως δεν βρήκα τα "Η καρδιά κυνηγάει μονάχη" και "Η μπαλάντα του λυπημένου καφενείου", που φαίνονται τα πιο ενδιαφέροντα, αλλά αυτό εδώ το μικρό μυθιστόρημα (ή μεγάλη νουβέλα), που έτυχε να μου κοστίσει μονάχα μισό ευρώ. Βρισκόμαστε σ'ένα στρατόπεδο σε κάποια αμερικάνικη πολιτεία του Νότου, τέλη δεκαετίας του '40, και παρακολουθο ...more
qtasha
I know that everybody likes The Heart is a Lonely Hunter but this small strange book is the proof of her writing chops, this book has everything. A uptight army higher up with repressed gay desires who put a cat in the mailbox, a stupid wife who don't even bother to hide her affair with her husband's army coworker who in turn has a mentally unbalanced wife cut off her nipples with garden shears An houseboy who couldn't be in the closet even if he wanted to. What a crew! this book is a look into ...more
Inés
Mar 04, 2017 Inés rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3'5 ⭐
El
Dec 07, 2010 El rated it it was ok
I loved The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and The Member of the Wedding. I love McCullers's minimalist writing style.

I did not love Reflections in a Golden Eye.



It seems like a good story - a true love-triangle. (Or love-square? Maybe love-trapezoid.) Taking place on an Army base in the American South we have Captain Penderton and his wife, Leonora, and Major Langdon, his sickly wife, Alison, and their houseboy, Anacleto. Then there's Private Williams who once saw Leonora nekkid and has become a bit o
...more
gorecki
Jan 04, 2017 gorecki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is a beautiful poem by the Hungarian poet János Pilinszky I really love. I think it summarises this incredible book perfectly! It goes like this:
Once upon a time
there was a lonely wolf
lonelier than the angels.

He happened to come to a village.
He fell in love with the first house he saw.

Already he loved its walls
the caresses of its bricklayers.
But the window stopped him.

In the room sat people.
Apart from God nobody ever
found them so beautiful
as this child-like beast.

So at night he went into t
...more
Chortle
Jul 19, 2011 Chortle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Over the age of 20, LGBT, artsy
Controversial. Reflections in a Golden Eye was made into a 1967 movie starring Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando directed by John Huston. I'm glad I knew this before I read the book because while reading the book I was picturing Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando in their respective roles. The trailer is viewable on youtube, although the trailer may seem far more melodramatic than the movie. I really expect that the book is far superior to the movie because the book probably has a lighter touch ...more
Amanda L
Subtle and intricate unrequited ties among characters without going soap-opera-y-dramatic. Each character is wholly integral to the story and is outstandingly conveyed in excerpts that are punctuated by other character illustrations. Yet each character serves as a beacon for another or a few others to elucidate their contrasting natures. How this woman can understand so much of the nuances of human psychology is utterly astounding.

Addresses masculinity and femininity and the blurred line disting
...more
Silvana
Reflexos num olho dourado foi um livro que ganhei de um passatempo no ano passado. Era totalmente desconhecido para mim. Não conhecia a autora, nem nunca tinha ouvido falar dela e também nunca me tinha cruzado com o livro em causa.

Sem grandes expectativas, parto para a leitura. Agora que o terminei, ainda bem que não estava à espera de um grande livro.
Este é um daqueles livros do qual nada ou quase nada assimilei. Tenho a certeza que daqui a uns tempo não me vou lembrar de nada do que se passou
...more
João Roque
Mar 13, 2013 João Roque rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gays, narrativa
Como muitos outros livros, também “Reflexos num olho dourado”, de Carson McCullers, foi adaptado ao cinema, neste caso por um excelente realizador, John Huston e por uma dupla de actores de peso – Marlon Brando e Elizabeth Taylor. Recordo-me de ter visto o filme, há muitos anos e de ter gostado muito.
Só agora tive oportunidade de ler o livro e quase sempre quando leio um livro e vejo o filme adaptado gosto mais do livro, o que é natural.
Mas, neste caso, isso não aconteceu; ou eu já não me record
...more
Mubarak bin Jerusalem
Nov 08, 2014 Mubarak bin Jerusalem rated it did not like it
With enough recognition, credibility, one finds illimitable instances of bands' 'B-Sides' and 'Bootleg Tapes' amd all of that. They're often twice the price and half the quality. Well, what the hell was our friend Carson going to do in a hundred pages after publishing a masterpiece in her early twenties, married to some psychopathic loser, physical decay forthcoming? The same thing I would have done: Get fucking hammered with Capote, Williams, dash off a forgettable piece, make another cool mill ...more
Greg Z
Dec 11, 2015 Greg Z rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
A revelation to me. Imagine, in 1941, McCullers' taking on the subject, not of 'latent homosexuality', but of a wide open sexual spectrum in which Captain Penderton may or may not have fallen into. But he dedicates his life to a high-ranking military position, to the exclusion of the rest of the world. And when another officer's wife passes, he realizes what the future holds. His choice? It's a heartbreaker. This is a sad, bizarre, beautiful Southern Gothic. It is equal in tone, atmosphere, and ...more
Matt

Overdone allegories, humid Freudian symbolism, rather drab narrative. McCullers was a great writer, but I think of this book as an oddity, like she's working out a certain variety of psychic kicks, more than anything else.
Deborah Sheldon
Nov 21, 2016 Deborah Sheldon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw the 1967 film adaptation first, which turned out to be remarkably faithful to the novella. McCullers lays bare the intimate foibles of her characters in the most excruciating yet offhand manner. She doesn't judge, so neither do we. A mesmerising read.
Liam
This is a very touching and quietly profound novella. The plot involves the relationships of a small central cast, set in a peacetime army post. Two neighbouring senior officers, Captain Penderton and Major Langdon, live affluently, childless, with their wives: Leonara Penderton and Alice Langdon. A quiet private, Elgee Williams, is commissioned by the Captain to clear a space of woodland in front of his house and becomes obsessed with the Captain's free-spirited, child-like and often-nude wife. ...more
Thor Balanon
McCullers amplified those hairline fractures that inevitably became empty spaces. Cliffs. Loneliness. Here are six individuals, hunters again of meaning and happiness in an army camp surrounded by thick woods and shadows. It's a short novel of overlapping dark desires and hopelessly breaks your heart, McCullers style.
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3506
Carson McCullers was an American who wrote fiction, often described as Southern Gothic, that explores the spiritual isolation of misfits and outcasts of the South.

From 1935 to 1937 she divided her time, as her studies and health dictated, between Columbus and New York and in September 1937 she married an ex-soldier and aspiring writer, Reeves McCullers. They began their married life in Charlotte,
...more
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“You mean,' Captain Penderton said, 'that any fulfilment obtained at the expense of normalcy is wrong, and should not be allowed to bring happiness. In short, it is better, because it is morally honourable, for the square peg to keep scraping around the round hole rather than to discover and use the unorthodox square that would fit?'…'I don't agree” 3 likes
“La mente es como un tapiz ricamente tejido en el que los colores son dados por la experiencia de los sentimientos y el diseño por las operaciones del intelecto. La mente del soldado Williams se hallaba impregnada de diversos colores de extraños tonos, pero carecía de diseño y forma.” 2 likes
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